The first real structure of any sort which was designed to house the Shekinah
was the Tabernacle
in the wilderness. After Israels rescue from Egypt and before crossing the Jordan into the Promised Land, the Jews wandered in the Sinai. God gave Moses instructions to build the Tabernacle (Ex. Ex. 25:40
) around which the tribes would camp. (See Camp of Israel
.) Israel could only approach God when protected from His presence by the Tabernacle. Even then, elaborate procedures were necessary to account for the sinful condition of man (Ex. Ex. 25:9
; Ex. 40:34
). Even the name Tabernacle denoted the purpose common to every Temple
: that God would dwell with man. The Hebrew word for tabernacle is Hamishkhan, having the same root as Shechinah. Thus, the word tabernacle can also be translated as the dwelling place of the Shechinah.1
The portability of the Tabernacle had some advantages over the more permanent Temples to follow. For one thing, it taught Israel to depend upon Gods leading because they were to stay camped until Gods presence indicated it was time to move (Ex. Ex. 40:36-37
). How often this is the case in our own livesthat we learn to wait on God and follow Him more closely in the wilderness! Later, when Israel had the more permanent Temple of Solomon, they made the mistake of assuming the permanence of the buildings location inferred the same for Gods presence. Later, when Solomons Temple
was complete, the Tabernacle was brought to the Temple and its furnishings, together with the Ark of the Covenant, were transferred into the Temple (1K. 1K. 8:4
; 2Chr. 2Chr. 5:5
1 Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of Messiah, rev ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2003), 610.
2 Josephus states that the Tabernacle was brought into the First Temple [Antiquities, pp. 8. 101, 106], and that the effect of the spread-winged cherubim was to make it appear as a tent (8. 103).Randall Price, In Search of Temple Treasure (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1994), 193.